Matt Cassel, By the Numbers

Week Opponent Att Cmp Yds Cmp% Yds/Att TD INT Sack/Lost Rating
1 Kansas City 18 13 152 72.2 8.44 1 0 2/16 116.0
2 @ New York Jets 23 16 165 69.6 7.17 0 0 4/9 89.9
3 Miami 31 19 131 61.3 4.23 1 1 4/17 68.1
5 @ San Francisco 32 22 259 68.8 8.09 1 2 5/26 77.5
6 @ San Diego 38 22 203 57.9 5.34 0 1 4/10 61.6
7 Denver 24 18 185 75.0 7.71 3 0 6/38 136.3
8 St. Louis 33 21 267 63.6 8.09 1 2 3/17 73.7
9 @ Indianapolis 34 25 204 73.5 6.00 0 1 0/0 76.1
10 Buffalo 32 22 234 68.8 7.31 0 0 1/8 89.8
11 New York Jets 51 30 400 58.8 7.84 3 0 3/14 103.4
12 @ Miami 43 30 415 69.8 9.65 3 1 2/7 114.0
13 Pittsburgh 39 19 169 48.7 4.33 0 2 5/24 39.4
14 @ Seattle 44 26 268 59.1 6.09 1 0 3/8 84.3
15 @ Oakland 30 18 218 60.0 7.27 4 1 3/8 108.1
16 Arizona 36 20 345 55.6 9.58 3 0 1/12 116.1
17 @ Buffalo 8 6 78 75.0 9.75 0 0 1/5 105.2
TOTALS 516 327 3693 63.4 7.16 21 11 47/219 89.4

One nice thing about examining Matt Cassel's stats is that it doesn't take long. Above are the stats for Cassel's only starting season at quarterback (and that's including college and the pros). 

I was working on this stat post yesterday when NESilver posted his excellent post titled Matt Cassel's 2008 Resume. Partly out of repetition and partly out of laziness, I cut my post a bit short. Thanks again NESilver for a great post on our new QB.

I'm hesitant to draw a lot of concrete conclusions from these stats because I've only seen Matt Cassel play in one game- against the Chiefs. The catch with stats in the NFL is that there are always other factors that blur the black and white stats to shades of gray. I try to touch upon some of those mitigating factors in a few of Cassel's games after the jump.

League Ranks

QB rating: 10th Comp. %: 11th Comp. %: 11th
Avg. per pass: 11th Yds/game: 10th TDs: 10th
INTs: 16th 1st downs: 9th Sacked: 1st

The stat that stands out is that Matt Cassel was the #1 most sacked quarterback in the NFL last year. With the Chiefs offensive line barely able to function, this stat really is a concern for me. On the other hand, I can imagine opposing defenses over-attacking Cassel after Tom Brady was injured, daring the backup QB to beat them.

Also, the Patriots offensive line had been in question since the 2008 Super Bowl. Remember when the NY Giants destroyed the Pats o-line in the Super Bowl? That doubt never subsided, as injuries and patchwork players made up the storyline for the Patriots offensive line in the 2008 season. Things were so bad that New England briefly signed former Chief guard John Welbourn.

It seems like there was plenty of blame to go around for the Patriots high number of sacks. Cassel's lack of mobility, combined with his unsharpened decision making skills and a beleaguered offensive line, came together to ensure the first time starter took his lumps in the pocket.

If it's any consolation, four QBs were worse than Cassel in the sacks per attempt category.

Best and worst games

I find it funny when analysts criticized a player for playing his best against poor competition. That's what is supposed to happen, right? I suppose you're looking for the exceptions when you talk about a player like that- a good game against a great defense for example- and Matt Cassel doesn't really have any of those. In fact, he's pretty inconsistent.

Cassel_qb_rating_chart_medium

Cassel's best games (by QB rating) were against some of the worst pass defenses in the NFL (I can't believe I'm saying this, with the exception of the Raiders):

1. 136.3 (Denver, 26th)

2. 116.1 (Arizona, 22nd)

3. 116 (Kansas City, 28th)

4. 114 (Miami, 25th)

5. 108.1 (Oakland, 10th)

You'd expect to see those numbers with an above average quarterback, like we assume we have in Matt Cassel. One caveat about that Raider game is that it was in rainy conditions, which may account for some advantages, on boht sides of the ball. Adam Teicher at the Red Zone touched upon Cassel's less than stellar competition as well:

His 11 wins (including the relief role against the Chiefs) came against just three teams with winning records (Jets, Dolphins and Cardinals) and one with a .500 mark (Denver).

The 11 wins came against teams with a 71-105 collective record.

Okay. So Cassel didn't play against the toughest competition. But this is the NFL and I don't think the "weak" competition argument is as strong, as say it is in college football. Plus, the 2008 Patriots were hardly as unstoppable as they were a year before. This year's Patriot offensive line was bad. Cassel wasn't heading a juggernaut.

Now how about Cassel's worst games and how the competition's pass defense ranked?

1. 39.4 (Pittsburgh, 1st)

2. 61.6 (San Diego, 31st)

3. 68.1 (Miami, 25th)

4. 73.7 (St. Louis, 19th)

5. 76.1 (Indianapolis, 6th)

Hmm. This list isn't as easily explained as Cassel's best games. Pittsburgh has a great defense so that low rating doesn't surprise me. Indianapolis isn't too bad either so I can imagine a 76.1 rating not being too shabby.

The San Diego game was played beautifully on defense by the Chargers, sacking Cassel four times and forcing six QB hurries. It was the Chargers pass rush against the Patriots that compensated for their pedestrian secondary.

If you remember, that first Miami game was when the Dolphins busted out the Wildcat formation. RB Ronnie Brown had three touchdowns in the first half and ended up with five overall. The Dolphins clowned the Patriots. Cassel was taken out late in the game because Miami was up by so many points. The Dolphins' early lead forced the Patriots to rely heavily on the pass. Cassel was sacked five times and was hurried eight times.

These stats tell me that Matt Cassel didn't really "rise up" over his competition. The defenses that should have stopped him, stopped him. He capitalized on poor secondaries. He was as productive as expected.

As I'm saying that Cassel didn't rise up past his competition, the quarterback had three 4th quarter comebacks last year. NESilver broke down these comebacks over at Pats Pulpit.

Despite my skeptical tone, Cassel did win 11 games as a full time starter. That seems almost god-like compared to what the Chiefs QBs have won in the last three years.

Overall

Essentially, Matt Cassel was right around the 10th best quarterback in the NFL last year. Is that worth a second round pick? Yes, it is. Is Matt Cassel going to be a great quarterback in the NFL? I don't know. I think Scott Pioli thinks that, which is good enough for me.

As we examine the strength of this trade for Matt Cassel, we're really putting our trust in Scott Pioli's ability to evaluate personnel. There is only one football season of game tape on Cassel but Pioli saw him on a regular basis for nearly four years in New England. I'm going with Scott Pioli's instincts.

Thoughts on Cassel's one season of football stats? Anything particularly worry you?

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